The Great One gets traded

The Great One gets traded

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On August 9, 1988, Edmonton Oilers center Wayne Gretzky is traded to the Los Angeles Kings along with Mike Krushelnyski and Marty McSorley in return for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas and first-round draft picks in the 1989, 1991 and 1993 drafts. At age 27, Gretzky was already widely considered the greatest player in hockey history and was the owner of 43 National Hockey League scoring records.

Gretzky had won eight Hart trophies, the NHL’s MVP award, in his nine seasons with the Oilers, in addition to seven straight Art Ross trophies (1981-1987) as the league’s leading scorer. The previous season, the Oilers had brought home their fourth Stanley Cup championship during Gretzky’s tenure. Nothing short of a sports phenomenon, he was considered a national treasure in his native Canada and was beloved by the citizens of Edmonton.

Fan reaction to the trade ran the gamut from shocked and saddened to angry. After the announcement, Oilers owner Peter Pocklington defended the move by explaining that Gretzky had asked to be traded to Los Angeles, where hockey was still struggling for a foothold in the marketplace alongside the more popular basketball, baseball and football. Gretzky himself explained the decision this way: “I felt I was still young enough and capable enough to help a new franchise win a Stanley Cup.” After saying the trade was made “for the benefit of Wayne Gretzky, my new wife and our expected child in the new year,” the hockey star then walked away from the microphone, overcome with emotion at leaving the city where he had established himself as a Canadian hero.

About three weeks before the trade was announced, Gretzky had married American actress Janet Jones, and many fans believed she was the reason behind the decision. Los Angeles certainly seemed an appropriate destination for the young couple: In addition to being the capital of the film industry, it was also the second-largest city in the United States, a perfect place for “The Great One” to increase his visibility and value as a pitchman and help boost the popularity of hockey in the lucrative U.S. market. Of course, this logic did not stop Edmonton residents from protesting the trade by hanging Gretzky in effigy.

Silk Road

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Silk Road, also called Silk Route, ancient trade route, linking China with the West, that carried goods and ideas between the two great civilizations of Rome and China. Silk went westward, and wools, gold, and silver went east. China also received Nestorian Christianity and Buddhism (from India) via the Silk Road.

What was the Silk Road?

The Silk Road was an ancient trade route that linked the Western world with the Middle East and Asia. It was a major conduit for trade between the Roman Empire and China and later between medieval European kingdoms and China.

Where did the Silk Road start and end?

The Silk Road began in north-central China in Xi’an (in modern Shaanxi province). A caravan track stretched west along the Great Wall of China, across the Pamirs, through Afghanistan, and into the Levant and Anatolia. Its length was about 4,000 miles (more than 6,400 km). Goods were then shipped to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea.

What major goods traveled along the Silk Road?

Chinese merchants exported silk to Western buyers. From Rome and later from Christian kingdoms, wools, gold, and silver traveled eastward.

What traveled along the Silk Road besides goods?

Apart from material goods, religion was one of the West’s major exports along the Silk Road. Early Assyrian Christians took their faith to Central Asia and China, while merchants from the Indian subcontinent exposed China to Buddhism. Disease also traveled along the Silk Road. Many scholars believe that the bubonic plague was spread to Europe from Asia, causing the Black Death pandemic in the mid-14th century.

Is the Silk Road still used today?

Parts of the Silk Road survive in the form of a paved highway connecting Pakistan and the Uyghur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang in China. In the 21st century the United Nations planned to sponsor a trans-Asian motor highway and railroad. The Silk Road also inspired China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a global infrastructure development strategy authored by President and General Secretary Xi Jinping.

Originating at Xi’an (Sian), the 4,000-mile (6,400-km) road, actually a caravan tract, followed the Great Wall of China to the northwest, bypassed the Takla Makan Desert, climbed the Pamirs (mountains), crossed Afghanistan, and went on to the Levant from there the merchandise was shipped across the Mediterranean Sea. Few persons traveled the entire route, and goods were handled in a staggered progression by middlemen.

With the gradual loss of Roman territory in Asia and the rise of Arabian power in the Levant, the Silk Road became increasingly unsafe and untraveled. In the 13th and 14th centuries the route was revived under the Mongols, and at that time the Venetian Marco Polo used it to travel to Cathay (China). It is now widely thought that the route was one of the main ways that plague bacteria responsible for the Black Death pandemic in Europe in the mid-14th century moved westward from Asia.

Part of the Silk Road still exists, in the form of a paved highway connecting Pakistan and the Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang, China. The old road has been the impetus behind a United Nations plan for a trans-Asian highway, and a railway counterpart of the road has been proposed by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). The road inspired cellist Yo-Yo Ma to found the Silk Road Project in 1999, which explored cultural traditions along its route and beyond as a means for connecting arts worldwide across cultures.


The burning question was, how many representatives from each state? Delegates from the larger, more populous states favored the Virginia Plan, which called for each state to have a different number of representatives based on the state’s population. Delegates from smaller states supported the New Jersey Plan, under which each state would send the same number of representatives to Congress.

Delegates from the smaller states argued that, despite their lower populations, their states held equal legal status to that of the larger states, and that proportional representation would be unfair to them. Delegate Gunning Bedford, Jr. of Delaware notoriously threatened that the small states could be forced to “find some foreign ally of more honor and good faith, who will take them by the hand and do them justice.”

However, Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts objected to the small states’ claim of legal sovereignty, stating that

The Irish Slave Trade – The Forgotten “White” Slaves

They came as slaves vast human cargo transported on tall British ships bound for the Americas. They were shipped by the hundreds of thousands and included men, women, and even the youngest of children.

Whenever they rebelled or even disobeyed an order, they were punished in the harshest ways. Slave owners would hang their human property by their hands and set their hands or feet on fire as one form of punishment. They were burned alive and had their heads placed on pikes in the marketplace as a warning to other captives.

We don’t really need to go through all of the gory details, do we? After all, we know all too well the atrocities of the African slave trade. But, are we talking about African slavery?

King James II and Charles I led a continued effort to enslave the Irish. Britain’s famed Oliver Cromwell furthered this practice of dehumanizing one’s next door neighbor.

The Irish slave trade began when James II sold 30,000 Irish prisoners as slaves to the New World. His Proclamation of 1625 required Irish political prisoners be sent overseas and sold to English settlers in the West Indies. By the mid 1600s, the Irish were the main slaves sold to Antigua and Montserrat. At that time, 70% of the total population of Montserrat were Irish slaves.

Ireland quickly became the biggest source of human livestock for English merchants. The majority of the early slaves to the New World were actually white.

From 1641 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the English and another 300,000 were sold as slaves. Ireland’s population fell from about 1,500,000 to 600,000 in one single decade. Families were ripped apart as the British did not allow Irish dads to take their wives and children with them across the Atlantic. This led to a helpless population of homeless women and children. Britain’s solution was to auction them off as well.

During the 1650s, over 100,000 Irish children between the ages of 10 and 14 were taken from their parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In this decade, 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia. Another 30,000 Irish men and women were also transported and sold to the highest bidder. In 1656, Cromwell ordered that 2000 Irish children be taken to Jamaica and sold as slaves to English settlers.

Many people today will avoid calling the Irish slaves what they truly were: Slaves. They’ll come up with terms like “Indentured Servants” to describe what occurred to the Irish. However, in most cases from the 17th and 18th centuries, Irish slaves were nothing more than human cattle.

As an example, the African slave trade was just beginning during this same period. It is well recorded that African slaves, not tainted with the stain of the hated Catholic theology and more expensive to purchase, were often treated far better than their Irish counterparts.

African slaves were very expensive during the late 1600s (50 Sterling). Irish slaves came cheap (no more than 5 Sterling). If a planter whipped or branded or beat an Irish slave to death, it was never a crime. A death was a monetary setback, but far cheaper than killing a more expensive African.

The English masters quickly began breeding the Irish women for both their own personal pleasure and for greater profit. Children of slaves were themselves slaves, which increased the size of the master’s free workforce. Even if an Irish woman somehow obtained her freedom, her kids would remain slaves of her master. Thus, Irish moms, even with this new found emancipation, would seldom abandon their kids and would remain in servitude.

In time, the English thought of a better way to use these women (in many cases, girls as young as 12) to increase their market share: The settlers began to breed Irish women and girls with African men to produce slaves with a distinct complexion. These new “mulatto” slaves brought a higher price than Irish livestock and, likewise, enabled the settlers to save money rather than purchase new African slaves.

This practice of interbreeding Irish females with African men went on for several decades and was so widespread that, in 1681, legislation was passed “forbidding the practice of mating Irish slave women to African slave men for the purpose of producing slaves for sale.” In short, it was stopped only because it interfered with the profits of a large slave transport company.

England continued to ship tens of thousands of Irish slaves for more than a century. Records state that, after the 1798 Irish Rebellion, thousands of Irish slaves were sold to both America and Australia.

There were horrible abuses of both African and Irish captives. One British ship even dumped 1,302 slaves into the Atlantic Ocean so that the crew would have plenty of food to eat.

There is little question that the Irish experienced the horrors of slavery as much (if not more in the 17th Century) as the Africans did. There is, also, very little question that those brown, tanned faces you witness in your travels to the West Indies are very likely a combination of African and Irish ancestry.

In 1839, Britain finally decided on it’s own to end it’s participation in Satan’s highway to hell and stopped transporting slaves. While their decision did not stop pirates from doing what they desired, the new law slowly concluded THIS chapter of nightmarish Irish misery.

But, if anyone, black or white, believes that slavery was only an African experience, then they’ve got it completely wrong.

Irish slavery is a subject worth remembering, not erasing from our memories. But, where are our public (and PRIVATE) schools. Where are the history books? Why is it so seldom discussed?

Do the memories of hundreds of thousands of Irish victims merit more than a mention from an unknown writer? Or is their story to be one that their English pirates intended: To (unlike the African book) have the Irish story utterly and completely disappear as if it never happened.

None of the Irish victims ever made it back to their homeland to describe their ordeal. These are the lost slaves the ones that time and biased history books conveniently forgot.

Is there any truth to the myths surrounding Catherine?

To the general public, Catherine is perhaps best known for conducting a string of salacious love affairs. But while the empress did have her fair share of lovers󈟜 to be exact—she was not the sexual deviant of popular lore. Writing in The Romanovs, Montefiore characterizes Catherine as “an obsessional serial monogamist who adored sharing card games in her cozy apartments and discussing her literary and artistic interests with her beloved.” Many sordid tales of her sexuality can, in fact, be attributed to detractors who hoped to weaken her hold on power.

Army officer Grigory Potemkin was arguably the greatest love of Catherine’s life, though her relationship with Grigory Orlov, who helped the empress overthrow Peter III, technically lasted longer. The pair met on the day of Catherine’s 1762 coup but only became lovers in 1774. United by a shared appreciation of learning and larger-than-life theatrics, they “were human furnaces who demanded an endless supply of praise, love and attention in private, and glory and power in public,” according to Montefiore.

Letters exchanged by the couple testify to the ardent nature of their relationship: In one missive, Catherine declared, “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, you are so handsome, clever, jovial and funny when I am with you I attach no importance to the world. I have never been so happy.” Such all-consuming passion proved unsustainable—but while the pair’s romantic partnership faded after just two years, they remained on such good terms that Potemkin continued to wield enormous political influence, acting as “tsar in all but name,” one observer noted. Upon Potemkin’s death in 1791, Catherine reportedly spent days overwhelmed by “tears and despair.”

Grigory Orlov (left) and Grigory Potemkin (right) were two of Catherine's most prominent lovers. (Public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

In her later years, Catherine became involved with a number of significantly younger lovers—a fact her critics were quick to latch onto despite the countless male monarchs who did the same without attracting their subjects’ ire. Always in search of romantic intimacy, she once admitted, “The trouble is that my heart is loath to remain even one hour without love.”

For all her show of sensuality, Catherine was actually rather “prudish,” says Jaques. She disapproved of off-color jokes and nudity in art falling outside of mythological or allegorical themes. Other aspects of the empress’ personality were similarly at odds: Extravagant in most worldly endeavors, she had little interest in food and often hosted banquets that left guests wanting for more. And though Catherine is characterized by modern viewers as “very flighty and superficial,” Hartley notes that she was a “genuine bluestocking,” waking up at 5 or 6 a.m. each morning, brewing her own pot of coffee to avoid troubling her servants, and sitting down to begin the day’s work.

Perhaps the most readily recognizable anecdote related to Catherine centers on a horse. But the actual story of the monarch’s death is far simpler: On November 16, 1796, the 67-year-old empress suffered a stroke and fell into a coma. She died the next day, leaving her estranged son, Paul I, as Russia’s next ruler.

Portrait of Catherine, circa 1780s (Photo by Fine Art Images / Heritage Images / Getty Images) Vigilius Ericksen, Empress Catherine II before the Mirror, 1779 (Photo by Fine Art Images / Heritage Images / Getty Images)

McNamara tells the Sydney Morning Herald that this apocryphal anecdote helped inspire “The Great.”

“It seemed like her life had been reduced to a salacious headline about having sex with a horse,” the writer says. “Yet she’d done an enormous amount of amazing things, had been a kid who’d come to a country that wasn’t her own and taken it over.”

Publicly, Catherine evinced an air of charm, wit and self-deprecation. In private, says Jaques, she balanced a constant craving for affection with a ruthless determination to paint Russia as a truly European country.

Jaques cites a Vigilius Ericksen portrait of the empress as emblematic of Catherine’s many contradictions. In the painting, she presents her public persona, standing in front of a mirror while draped in an ornate gown and serene smile. Look at the mirror, however, and an entirely different ruler appears: “Her reflection is this private, determined, ambitious Catherine,” says Jaques. “ … In one portrait, he’s managed to just somehow portray both sides of this compelling leader.”


While some aspects of religious observance were communal, traditional Ojibwa religious practice was focused on inward personal experience. There was a belief in spirits, called manitou or manidoo . The creator was referred to as Gitchie Manitou. Manjimanidoo or evil spirits existed windigos were especially terrifying spirits who dwelled within lakes and practiced cannibalism. Animate and inanimate objects possessed spiritual power, and the Ojibwa considered themselves one element of nature, no greater or less significant than any other living being. The cardinal directions were invested with sacred power and were associated with certain colors: white for the north, red or black for the south, yellow for the east, blue for the west. The Ojibwa recognized three additional directions: heaven, earth, and the position where an individual stands. Tobacco was considered sacred and was smoked in pipes or scattered on lakes to bless a crossing, a harvest, or a herd or to seal agreements between peoples of different tribes.

Dreams carried great significance and were sought through fasting or other purgative ceremonies. Dream catchers were used to capture good dreams. The name "dreamer" was reserved for tribal visionaries who would dream of certain powerful objects—such as stones—that they would then seek on waking. Dreamers might also experience prophetic dreams that they would convey to others to forestall danger. At an early age young boys and girls fasted in order to obtain a vision of how to conduct their future. Some visions provided complete messages and songs others were incomplete and were revealed in their entirety only with the fullness of time. Visions could come during sleep. Since it was difficult to adhere to the advice imparted by visions, men and women went on annual fasts or retreats to renew the vision and reflect on their lives.

Sweat lodges were used to cure illness or to procure dreams. These were wigwams in which steam was created by pouring water over heated rocks and sealing the entrances. Bark and pine boughs might be added to the steam. Fasting was used to cure sickness and, like sweating, was thought to cleanse the body.

The Ojibwa developed a Grand Medicine Society or Midewiwin ( Mitewiwin ) religion. Abbreviated Mide, Midewiwin most likely means "goodhearted" or "resonant," in reference to the belief that the Mide priest worked for the betterment of others and employed special sacred drums. The Mide culture is a hierarchical priesthood of four to eight degrees, or orders, with each level representing the attainment of certain skills or knowledge. Women as well as men, children as well as adults, could be priests (also referred to as medicine men or women). As many as 20 years of study might be required to progress to the highest degree. After one year of training, an apprentice was initiated as a first-level Mide priest and was allowed to perform certain duties. Initiations were held during an annual Grand Medicine Dance in the spring or early fall and lasted from one to five days. Conducted in large wigwams, the ceremonies incorporated the use of a sacred drum and sacred pipe, both of which were guarded by caretakers. Initiates offered gifts such as blankets, cooking utensils, and wild rice. Feasting included wild rice, fresh or dried blueberries, maple sugar, and dog meat. Subsequent training required learning herbology for treating sickness or for acquiring personal power, a skill used much in the way that charms are used. Mide priests, therefore, acquired the role of healer. Mide members were also reputed to use "bad medicine" to cause sickness or death. Mide priests carried personal medicine bundles, cloth squares, or cloth or yarn bags enclosing one or more decorated animal skins called medicine bags. Specific types of skins were associated with each of the Mide degrees. At the first level, the Mide priest would have a medicine bag made from the skin of an otter, marten, mink, or weasel. Objects found in medicine bags included shells, bear claws decorated with ribbons, glass beads, kinikinik (native tobacco), carved figures, dried roots, and herbs. Mide songs and instructions were recorded on birch bark scrolls that were placed under the care of an appointed guardian priest.

In the early nineteenth century, many Ojibwa became followers of the Shawnee Prophet and his multitribe Shawano cult whose members advocated a return to traditional living and replacing Mide rites with new ceremonies. The Prophet was also known as Lalawethika (Laulewasika) or Tenskwatawa and was the brother of the Shawnee warrior Tecumseh. The Shawano cult lost favor and the Mide regained strength after the Prophet's followers failed to defeat the U.S. Army troops in 1811 at the battle of Tippecanoe.

Christianity was adopted slowly, but most modern Ojibwa are Roman Catholics or Protestant Episcopalians. Conflict arose between full-blooded Ojibwa, who tended to follow a more traditional lifestyle focused on Mide or Episcopalian values, and the mixed-blood progressive Ojibwa, who typically were Roman Catholic and followed a more acculturated lifestyle. The BIA often settled disagreements between the two factions by siding with the progressives who promoted majority culture values such as agronomy and small business enterprises.

The Trans-Saharan Trade Route

The Trans-Saharan Trade Route was one of Africa's most essential trade routes as it linked various regions of the Sahara. Camels were indispensable to the trade as they allowed the traders to cover long distances. Some of the most essential items traded along the route included gold and slaves. The slaves were mainly sourced from native communities or were usually prisoners of war. Several luxury items were also traded along the Trans-Saharan Trade Route such as ostrich feathers. The African communities involved in the trade also received guns which they used to strengthen their kingdoms. Oases were the most significant places along the trade route as they provided both the camels and the traders a place to rest after the tiring journey. Islam spread significantly along the trade route as well as Arabic culture. The decline of the trade route was due to the rise in the Trans-Atlantic trade route as well as the growth of European control in Africa.

The Hidden Value

This isn’t to say trading in your car is a bad idea. There are plenty of benefits to trading, including simplicity, but the potential tax advantage is a major one that often gets overlooked. If you live in a state that charges sales tax, the next two paragraphs are critically important (you may be excused, citizens of Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire… and parts of Alaska).

Let’s imagine that you’re hoping to buy a brand new Subaru Outback in your home state of Vermont. Great choice. Thanks to a couple of options packages, the MSRP on the vehicle you want is $35,585, but you’re a skilled negotiator and managed to get the dealer to offer if for $34,000. The Green Mountain State charges 6% sales tax, meaning you’ll have to pay $2,040 in tax on your purchase, bringing the total out-of-pocket to $36,040—so much for a discount!

But you also have a trade-in! The dealer has looked over your old Subaru XV Crosstrek and, even though it’s painted bright tangerine orange pearl, is willing to offer you an even $16,000. If you agree to trade your Crosstrek, the dealership will subtract $16,000 from the purchase price of your Outback, bringing the cost before tax to $18,000. 6% of 18 grand is $1,080, meaning not only did you negotiate more than $1,500 off the MSRP, but you saved nearly $1,000 more in taxes.

When the Yuan Dynasty collapsed due to civil unrest the Chinese Han once again took control under the command of rebel leader Zhu Yuanzhang, who became the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty. China flourished during the Ming Dynasty and its military might swell. The Great Wall was systematically rebuilt in a 100-year project to prevent further northern invasion.

Most of the remaining Great Wall was built in the Ming Dynasty, and is known as the Ming Great Wall. The Great Wall sections close to Beijing like the Badaling section and Mutianyu section were built during the Ming Dynasty.

Map showing the key forts on the Ming Dynasty Great Wall.

Maya Merchants and Traders

While agriculture was the basis of Maya civilization, trade was equally important. During the early Pre-Classic period, Maya living in small villages were somewhat self-sustaining. However, as the Maya began building their great cities, only trade would have brought them the essential goods they needed, such as salt and obsidian.

Maya merchants dealt in two kinds of goods, subsistence items and luxury items. Subsistence items were things used every day such as salt, especially necessary in a hot climate, foodstuffs, clothing and tools. Luxury items were those things royalty and nobles used to showcase their wealthy and power. These included jade, gold, beautiful ceramics, jewelry and feather works.

Great cities with large populations required food brought into markets. Most food was grown by farmers who lived outside the city. However, what wasn’t grown nearby had to be brought in via trade or tribute. Most foodstuffs were traded regionally or in local markets. Luxury items, on the other hand, were most often involved in long distance trading. Cultural values and ideas would also have traveled along with the merchants, which is how the various cultures in Mesoamerica influenced each other.

Foodstuffs brought to the market included turkeys, ducks, dogs, fish, honey, beans and fruit. Cacao beans were used as currency, but also to make chocolate, a drink primarily enjoyed by the wealthy. Merchants traded cacao beans throughout Mesoamerica not only in the Maya lands but also to the Olmec, Zapotec, Aztecs and elsewhere. Merchants also traded in raw materials including jade, copper, gold, granite, marble, limestone and wood. Manufactured goods included textiles, especially embroidered cloth, clothing, feather capes and headdresses, paper, furniture, jewelry, toys and weapons. Specialists such as architects, mathematicians, scribes and engineers sold their services at the market as well.

During the Pre-Classic period, merchants and the artisans who made goods for the luxury market formed a new middle class where before there had only been nobles and commoners. As trade became more important so did the power of merchants who facilitated that trade. Long distance traders took their goods along established trade routes that covered Mexico to the north all the way through Central America and even down to South America and Cuba and other Caribbean islands. As there were no draft animals such as horses or oxen and no wheeled vehicles, all long distance traders traveled by foot or by boat. Hired porters carried the goods in a large basket on their backs, made easier by part of the weight being carried by a headband called a mecapal.

Some Maya city-states became commercial hubs along important trade routes. Tikal, for example, was not rich in natural resources, but grew wealthy through its ability to facilitate trade to the rest of Guatemalan Maya cities. Tikal, Copan and Cancuen all developed their economies through operating as major trade hubs.

Besides the trade route on land, important maritime trade took place as well. The Tainos of the Caribbean island of Cuba and the Quechua from South America traded with the Maya for cacao beans. Large trading canoes that held up to 20 people as well as a significant amount of trade goods traveled up and down the coasts.

Kamehameha the Great

King Kamehameha was one of the most striking figures in Hawaiian history, a leader who united and ruled the islands during a time of great cultural change. Accounts vary, but many think that Kamehameha (originally named Pai'ea) was born into a royal family in North Kohala sometime between 1753 and 1761, possibly in November 1758. Kamehameha's mother was Kekuiapoiwa, daughter of a Kona chief. His father was probably Keoua, chief of Kohala. Legends link his birth to storms and strange lights, activities thought by Hawaiians to herald the birth of a great chief. Because of prognostications at his birth and threats from warring clans, Kamehameha was taken away and hidden immediately after his birth. He spent his early years secluded in Waipio, returning to Kailua at the age of five. He lived there with his parents until his father's death, then continued to receive special training from King Kalani'opu'u, his uncle. This training included skills in games, warfare, oral history, navigation, religious ceremonies, and other information necessary to become an ali'i-'ai-moku (a district chief).

By the time of Cook's arrival, Kamehameha had become a superb warrior who already carried the scars of a number of political and physical encounters. The young warrior Kamehameha was described as a tall, strong, and physically fearless man who "moved in an aura of violence." Kamehameha accompanied his uncle (King Kalani'opu'u) aboard the Discovery, and history records that he conducted himself with valor during the battle in which Cook was killed. For his part in the battle at Kealakekua he achieved a certain level of notoriety, which he paraded "with an imperiousness that matched and even exceeded his rank as a high chief." Kamehameha might never have become king except for a twist of fate. Within a year after Cook's death, the elderly ali'i Kalani'opu'u, crippled by age and disease, called together his retainers and divided his Hawaiian domain. His son Kiwala'o became his political heir. To his nephew Kamehameha, the elderly ali'i entrusted the war god Kuka'ilimoku. Although this pattern of dividing the succession of the chiefdom and the protectorate of the god Ku was legendary, some authors suggest it was also uncommon.

As the eldest son, a chief of high rank, and the designated heir, the claim of Kiawala'o to the island of Hawai'i was "clear and irrefutible." However, although Kamehameha was of lower rank, and only a nephew of the late king, his possession of the war god was a powerful incentive to political ambition. Thus the old chief's legacy had effectively "split the political decision-making power between individuals of unequal rank" and set the stage for civil war among the chiefs of the island of Hawai'i. Although Kiwala'o was senior to Kamehameha, the latter soon began to challenge his authority. During the funeral for one of Kalani'opu'u's chiefs, Kamehameha stepped in and performed one of the rituals specifically reserved for Kiwala'o, an act that constituted a great insult.

After Kalani'opu'u died, in 1782, Kiwala'o took his bones to the royal burial house, Hale o Keawe, at Honaunau on the west coast of Hawai'i Island. Kamehameha and other western coast chiefs gathered nearby to drink and mourn his death. There are different versions of the events that followed. Some say that the old king had already divided the lands of the island of Hawai'i, giving his son Kiwala'o the districts of Ka'u, Puna, and Hilo. Kamehameha was to inherit the districts of Kona, Kohala, and Hamakua. It is not clear whether the landing of Kiwala'o's at Honaunau was to deify the bones of Kalani'opu'u or to attempt seizure of the district of Kona. Some suggest that Kamehameha and the other chiefs had gathered at Honaunau to await the redistribution of land, which usually occurred on the death of a chief, and to make hasty alliances. When it appeared that Kamehameha and his allies were not to receive what they considered their fair share, the battle for power and property began.

Over the next four years, numerous battles took place as well as a great deal of jockeying for position and privilege. Alliances were made and broken, but no one was able to gain a decisive advantage. The rulers of Hawai'i had reached a stalemate. Kamehameha's superior forces had several times won out over those of other warriors. He took the daughter of Kiwala'o, Keopuolani, captive and made her one of his wives he also took the child Ka'ahumanu (once mentioned as a wife for Kiwala'o) and "betrothed her to himself." He thus firmly established himself as an equal contender for control over the Hawaiian lands formerly ruled by Kalani'opu'u. Eventually Kiwala'o was killed in battle, but control of the Island of Hawai'i remained divided.

By 1786 the old chief Kahekili, king of Maui, had become the most powerful ali'i in the islands, ruling O'ahu, Maui, Moloka'i, and Lana'i, and controlling Kaua'i and Ni'ihau through an agreement with his half-brother Ka'eokulani. In 1790 Kamehameha and his army, aided by Isaac Davis and John Young, invaded Maui. The great chief Kahekili was on O'ahu, attempting to stem a revolt there. Using cannon salvaged from the ship, the Fair American, Kamehameha's warriors forced the Maui army into retreat, killing such a large number that the bodies dammed up a stream. However, Kamehameha's victory was short-lived, for one of his enemies, his cousin Keoua, chief of Puna and Ka'u, took advantage of Kamehameha's absence from Hawai'i to pillage and destroy villages on Hawai'i Island's west coast. Returning to Hawai'i, Kamehameha fought Keoua in two fierce battles. Kamehameha then retired to the west coast of the island, while Keoua and his army moved southward, losing some of their group in a volcanic steam blast. This civil war, which ended in 1790, was the last Hawaiian military campaign to be fought with traditional weapons. In future battles Kamehameha adopted Western technology, a factor that probably accounted for much of his success.

Because of Kamehameha's presence at Kealakekua Bay during the 1790s, many of the foreign trading ships stopped there. Thus he was able to amass large quantities of firearms to use in battle against other leaders. However, the new weapons were expensive and contributed to large increases in the cost of warfare. After almost a decade of fighting, Kamehameha had still not conquered all his enemies. So he heeded the advice of a seer on Kaua'i and erected a great new heiau at Pu'ukohola in Kawaihae for worship and for sacrifices to Kamehameha's war god Ku. Kamehameha hoped to thereby gain the spiritual power that would enable him to conquer the island. Some say that the rival chief Keoua was invited to Pu'ukohola to negotiate peace, but instead was killed and sacrificed on the heiau's altar. Others suggest that he was dispirited by the battles and was "induced to surrender himself at Kawaihae" before being killed. His death made Kamehameha ruler of the entire island of Hawai'i. Meanwhile, Kahekili decided to take the advantage while Kamehameha was preoccupied with Keoua and assembled an army — including a foreign gunner, trained dogs, and a special group of ferociously tattooed men known as pahupu'u. They raided villages and defiled graves along the coasts of Hawai'i until challenged by Kamehameha. The ensuing sea battle (Battle of the Red-Mouthed Gun) was indecisive, and Kahekili withdrew safely to O'ahu. Shortly thereafter, the English merchant William Brown, captain of the thirty-gun frigate Butterworth, discovered the harbor at Honolulu. Brown quickly made an agreement with Kahekili. The chief "ceded" the island of O'ahu (and perhaps Kaua'i) to Brown in return for military aid. Kamehameha also recognized the efficacy of foreign aid and sought assistance from Captain George Vancouver. Vancouver, a dedicated "man of empire," convinced Kamehameha to cede the Island of Hawai'i to the British who would then help protect it.

Kamehameha spent the next three years rebuilding the island's economy and learning warfare from visiting foreigners. Upon Kahekili's death in 1794, the island of O'ahu went to his son Kalanikupule. His half-brother Ka'eokulani ruled over Kaua'i, Maui, Lana'i, and Moloka'i. The two went to war, each seeking to control all the islands. After a series of battles on O'ahu and heavy bombardment from Brown's ships, Ka'eokulani and most of his men were killed. Encouraged by the victory over his enemies, Kalanikupule decided to acquire English ships and military hardware to aid in his attack on Kamehameha. Kalanikupule killed Brown and abducted the remainder of his crew, but the British seamen were able to regain control and unceremoniously shipped Kalanikupule and his followers ashore in canoes. Recognizing his enemy's vulnerability, Kamehameha used his strong army and his fleet of canoes and small ships to liberate Maui and Molaka'i from Kalanikupule's control.

Kamehameha's next target was O'ahu. As he prepared for war, one of his former allies, a chief named Kaiana, turned on him and joined forces with Kalanikupule. Nevertheless, Kamehameha's warriors overran O'ahu, killing both rival chiefs. Kamehameha could now lay claim to the rich farmland and fishponds of O'ahu, which would help support his final assault on Kaua'i. By mid-1796, Kamehameha's English carpenters had built a forty-ton ship for him at Honolulu, and once again he equipped his warriors for battle and advanced on Kaua'i. However bad weather forced him to give up his plans for invasion. Meanwhile yet another challenger — Namakeha, Kaiana's brother — led a bloody revolt on Hawai'i, depopulating the area and forcing Kamehameha to return to Hawai'i to crush the uprising. Kamehameha used the next few years of peace to build a great armada of new war canoes and schooners armed with cannons he also equipped his well-trained soldiers with muskets. He sailed this armada to Maui where he spent the next year in psychological warfare, sending threats to Ka'umu'ali'i, Kaua'i's ruler. This proved unsuccessful, so early in 1804 Kamehameha moved his fleet to O'ahu and prepared for combat. There his preparations for war were swiftly undone by an epidemic, perhaps cholera or typhoid fever, that killed many of his men. For several more years he remained at O'ahu, recovering from this defeat and, perhaps, pondering conquest of Kaua'i. Expecting an attack from Kamehameha, Ka'umu'ali'i sought the help of a Russian agent, Dr. Georg Schaffer, in building a fort at the mouth of the Waimea River and exchanged Kaua'i's sandalwood for guns. However, the anticipated battle never came because an American trader convinced Kamehameha to reach a compromise with Ka'umu'ali'i. Kamehameha was acknowledged as sovereign while Ka'umu'ali'i continued to rule Kaua'i, with his son as hostage in Honolulu.

After nine years at O'ahu, Kamehameha made a lengthy tour of his kingdom and finally settled at Kailua-Kona, where he lived for the next seven years. His rise to power had been based on invasion, on the use of superior force, and upon political machinations. His successful conquests, fueled by "compelling forces operating within Hawaiian society," were also influenced by foreign interests represented by men like Captain Vancouver.

Kamehameha died in May of 1819. He had accomplished what no man in the history of the Hawaiian people had ever done. By uniting the Hawaiian Islands into a viable and recognized political entity, Kamehameha secured his people from a quickly changing world.

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